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How about the beverage program?

What’s really been dramatic is the impact on the bar. Tony Roma’s has always had a really low bar mix. We probably run about 10 percent bar mix. We’ve added domestic craft beers. We’ve tried to specialize, including Florida craft beers. We’ve changed the ice even. We use that in handcrafted cocktails.

You’ve also added an open kitchen. What’s the thinking there?

That’s one of the things people like to see today. One of the groups that we really wanted to go after is the 30- to 49-year-old demographic. They are foodies. They watch the Food Network. They are knowledgeable about sourcing. We try to do some local sourcing on vegetables. We even have a chef’s table now where you can see the activity in the kitchen.

What are the plans for this concept?

We’ve signed a lease to do a brand-new company Tony Roma’s in the Winter Park area of Orlando. It will open in the fall of 2014. We’ll be able to design the open kitchen there from the beginning.

And when will this be available to franchise groups?

We’re compiling the data. Hopefully by October we’ll have enough data that it will be compelling to them.

How about for your partners abroad?

The competitive set is much more heated domestically than it is internationally. We’ve seen the need to make these changes first domestically, and we don’t have plans to change the international for some time.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless